Tag Archives: harry potter

J.K. Rowling’s ‘Potter’ world roars back to life

The pop culture juggernaut of J.K. Rowling’s Potter-mania appeared to be breathing its last gasp when the eighth film in the series, part two of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, made its premiere amid teeming throngs of bittersweet Potter fans in London’s Leicester Square in 2011.

Wands went into their cases. Hogwarts scarves were hung up.

“When Potter finished, I thought that was it,” says producer David Heyman, who oversaw the movie adaptations from the start and has since produced Gravity, Paddington and other films. Director David Yates, who helmed the final four Potter movies, staggered away for a much-needed holiday.

“I wouldn’t have imagined that I’d come back so quickly,” says Yates. “But it was the script that pulled me back in.”

The script was Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and it, unlike all the Potter films, was penned by Rowling herself. Based on Rowling’s 2001 book, which was framed as Harry’s Hogwarts textbook, Fantastic Beasts is set in Rowling’s familiar, magical world, but takes place 60 years earlier, in a more adult 1926 New York where wizards and Muggles (called “No-Majs,” as in “no magic,” in America) live in disharmony.

This fall, Rowling’s $7.8 billion film franchise will roar back into life, resurrecting one of the most potent and lucrative big-screen sensations. It’s a two-pronged attack. While Fantastic Beasts is reaching back into the past of Rowling’s Potter world, the two-part West End play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (only co-written by Rowling) is going into the future. It moves the tale 19 years ahead of where the books left off.

Authorship, timelines and casts may be extending in new directions, but the old obsession is still goblet-of-fire hot. The script of Cursed Child sold 2 million copies in two days.

Big expectations naturally also surround Fantastic Beasts (Nov. 18). For Warner Bros., which has endured sometimes rocky times in the intervening non-Potter years, it’s a happy reunion. In today’s constantly rebooting, ever-sequalizing Hollywood, did you really think Rowling’s world was finished?

“This isn’t Harry Potter. There aren’t Harry Potter characters in this,” says Heyman. “But there is connective tissue. To (Rowling), it’s part of one big story.”

That connective tissue, like a prequel, will grow more pronounced in coming Fantastic Beasts installments, eventually leading close to Harry, himself. A trilogy is planned, with the next chapter going into production next July. Less diehard fans should prepare for some very hardcore nerding-out by Potter fans as they trace illuminating hints in the tale’s history.

Eddie Redmayne stars as the bumbling magizoologist Newt Scamander, the future author of the Hogwarts textbook. Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler and Colin Farrell are among the many supporting roles. The story about escaped magical beasts loose in a city with anti-magic elements, the filmmakers claim, bears contemporary relevance.

“We in a time of great bigotry in America, the UK and around the world,” says Heyman. “This context of the story, while not political with a capital ‘P,’ is relevant in this time. It’s an entertainment but it’s not a hollow entertainment.”

Along with the new cast and the hop across the Atlantic, the biggest change is Rowling’s deeper involvement as screenwriter. She’s also writing the next “Fantastic Beasts” film.

“There were lots of things that inevitably got left behind,” says Yates of forming the Potter films. “In this case, we’re working directly with (Rowling) and the material is pouring out of her.”

“She’s a great writer and a quick study,” says Heyman. “She approached it with incredible humility but at the same time with the confidence of someone with boundless imagination. She wanted to be as good as she possibly could at it.”

The top 10 audiobooks on Audible.com

Audible.com best-sellers

Fiction

1.  3 Truths and a Lie by Lisa Gardner, narrated by Kirsten Potter (Brilliance Audio)

2.  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale (Pottermore from J.K. Rowling)

3.  The Martian by Andy Weir, narrated by R.C. Bray (Podium Publishing)

4.  Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster, narrated by Marc Thompson (Random House Audio)

5.  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale (Pottermore from J.K. Rowling)

6.  The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, narrated by Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey and India Fisher (Penguin Audio)

7.  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale (Pottermore from J.K. Rowling)

8. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale (Pottermore from J.K. Rowling)

9.  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale (Pottermore from J.K. Rowling)

10. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale (Pottermore from J.K. Rowling)

Nonfiction

1.  Sherlock Holmes: The First Great Detective by The Great Courses, narrated by Professor Thomas A. Shippey (The Great Courses)

2. The Buddha Walks into a Bar: A Guide to Life for a New Generation by Lodro Rinzler, narrated by the author (Audible Studios)

3.  Isaac’s Storm: A Man, A Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson, narrated by Richard Davidson (Recorded Books)

4.  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller (Tantor Audio)

5.  Modern Romance: An Investigation by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg, narrated by the authors (Penguin Audio)

6.  How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, narrated by Andrew Macmillan (Simon & Schuster Audio)

7.  Spark Joy: A Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, narrated by Sumalee Montano (Random House Audio)

8.  Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy, narrated by the author (Hachette Audio)

9.  The Big Tiny: A Build It-Myself Memoir by Dee Williams, narrated by Heather Henderson (Blackstone Audio, Inc.)

10. The Confidence Gap: A Guide to Overcoming Fear and Self-Doubt by Russ Harris, narrated by Graeme Malcolm (Audible Studios)

‘Harry Potter’ e-books come to life in new Apple edition

You don’t need to be a wizard to see the “Harry Potter” books come to life.

The seven books are getting a makeover with more than 200 new illustrations in enhanced e-books made for Apple devices. More than half of the illustrations are animated or interactive, with such touches as a golden snitch from Quidditch matches flying away as you tap it on the screen. Series creator J.K. Rowling also goes deeper into some of the characters and story lines with a handful of pop-up annotations.

The editions are exclusive to Apple’s iBooks Store and require an Apple Inc. mobile device or a Mac computer to read. For other devices, including Amazon’s Kindle, standard electronic editions are available through Rowling’s Pottermore site.

The makeover offers readers young and old a new way to engage with the story. It also gives Rowling and her publishers an opportunity to resell these best-selling books, the last of which came out eight years ago. It’s akin to Hollywood releasing the same movies in new formats and with bonus materials.

While the illustrations are new and exclusive to the enhanced editions, Rowling’s annotations aren’t necessarily so. Rowling has been regularly posting new essays on Pottermore. She has traced Harry’s roots to a 12th-century wizard and has written about the origins of an invisibility cloak that appears throughout the series. Rowling has also penned supplemental books, including “The Tales of Beedle the Bard,” a children’s book that was referenced in the last “Harry Potter” book.

Until recently, the Pottermore site also had a game that took readers through the books chapter by chapter, with riddles and other discoveries along the way. That game incorporated clips from the “Harry Potter” movies. The new e-books do not.

Instead, the new editions offer full-color illustrations and animation from Pottermore artists.

In one animation, you see multiple letters fly in through the fireplace with news of Harry’s acceptance to Hogwarts wizardry school. In another, an owl, a cat and the fog come to life on Platform 9 3/4, where a Hogwarts-bound train awaits. On the train, you see landscape moving by through a window.

In one scene of a feast, you can slide left and right to see the rest of a long table covered with food. It’s not obvious which illustrations are interactive. The idea is to get readers to explore.

There’s no sound, though. When Harry’s friend, Ron, gets an angry audio letter from his mother, you see steam coming out, but you don’t hear her screaming, as you do in the movie.

You can access Rowling’s supplemental materials by tapping a quill icon embedded in the text. For instance, you learn how students arrived at Hogwarts before train service began: Some rode on broomsticks, but that was tough with trunks and pets to bring along.

There aren’t many annotations, though. You get more backstory at the Pottermore site, but you need the e-books for the full text.

The books also get new digital covers to reflect each book’s theme — serpents for the second book, for instance. Artists also designed a new font with each letter incorporating a lightning bolt — the shape of a scar on Harry’s forehead. This font — named Fluffy, for a three-headed dog in the first book — is used for the opening letter of each chapter.

The books cost $10 each, or $70 for the series. There’s no discount if you already own standard electronic editions. English editions are available in the U.S. and 31 other markets right away. Editions in French, German and Spanish are coming Nov. 9.

JK Rowling tells a new Potter story on her website

Eight years after writing the last of her “Harry Potter” novels, J.K. Rowling is still adding to the boy wizard’s story.

The author posted new information recently about the Potter family, the background provided on a “newly imagined” and mobile friendly version of the Pottermore Web portal (www.pottermore.com ) that Rowling established in 2012.

In a brief essay titled, “The Potter Family,” Rowling traces Harry’s roots to “the twelfth-century wizard Linfred of Stinchcombe, a locally well-beloved and eccentric man, whose nickname, ‘the Potterer’, became corrupted in time to ‘Potter.”” She also offers the backstory on the “Invisibility Cloak,” a legacy made possible by a “beautiful young witch” named Iolanthe Peverell.

Radcliffe takes turn as gay beat poet Allen Ginsberg

The time is coming – maybe sooner than you expect – when you look at Daniel Radcliffe and don’t think “Harry Potter.”

The 23-year-old actor has gone from boy wizard to Broadway hoofer to gay Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, whom he plays in the new film “Kill Your Darlings.” He has several wildly different films lined up, and is soon to take to the London stage as star of Martin McDonagh’s barbed comedy “The Cripple of Inishmaan.”

The play gives audiences the chance to see Radcliffe in yet another new light, as Billy, a disabled orphan in 1930s Ireland who harbors an unlikely dream of Hollywood stardom.

“I think one of the hilarious things about this play is, by our standards today, how politically incorrect it is,” said the actor, looking lean if a tad tired – he’s been at the gym, working out ahead of rehearsals for the play – in the troupe’s office atop a West End playhouse. “So much of the comedy is just people being relentlessly cruel to Billy.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the one-time boy wizard is a fan of the edgier end of comedy. His entire post-Potter career feels designed to wrong-foot anyone seeking to pigeonhole him.

The play is Radcliffe’s first time on the West End stage since his 2007 run in “Equus,” Peter Shaffer’s play about a troubled stable boy who blinds horses. It featured the then-teenage actor in a nude scene, which triggered a deluge of “Harry Potter’s Wand” headlines. But critics praised the young actor’s brave and committed performance.

Radcliffe said “Equus” was “a signal of intent as to what I wanted to do.”

“I didn’t just want to take an easy way out of this. I wanted to really try and take risks and make a career for myself.”

Since then, he’s mixed movies and theater work, including a 2011 Broadway run as a scheming businessman in “How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”

He’s shot three films due to come out in the next year. “Kill Your Darlings,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, stars Radcliffe as Ginsberg – Beat poetry, gay sex scenes and all. Radcliffe says he’s never been prouder of a piece of work.

He’s also filmed “The F Word,” which he calls a “very funny, very sweet but also very smart” romantic comedy from Canadian director Michael Dowse.

“I don’t want to say (I’m) playing myself, exactly,” Radcliffe said, “but (I’m) playing a character that’s fairly high-anxiety, slightly hyperactive guy.”

He’s especially excited about “Horns,” a film by French horror auteur Alexandre Aja (“The Hills Have Eyes,” “Piranha”). It’s about a bereaved man who grows devilish horns that allow him access to the thoughts and feelings of others.

“It’s a love story, it’s a revenge movie, it’s a horror movie in parts – it’s going to be crazy,” said Radcliffe, who made an earlier foray into horror movies with “The Woman in Black.”

Next up, he will star as mad-scientist’s assistant Igor in Max Landis’ pop-culture spin on the “Frankenstein” story.

All in all, it’s an eclectic list of projects. Radcliffe says there is a philosophy guiding his career choices, but “it’s very basic. It’s just what excites me.”

“Hopefully later on this year people will start to see some very different performances from me. And hopefully some really good movies,” he said. “It’s about the movie as a whole, not just people studying my performance and seeing how I’m getting different and how I’m growing up.”

Radcliffe accepts that fascination with how he’s growing up is unlikely to fade altogether. But he seems comfortable with the Harry Potter legacy, happy to have made the transition from child star to adult actor.

The “Harry Potter” moviemakers have been praised for creating a stable, creative home for their young stars, who went from preteens to adults over the course of eight films released between 2001 and 2011.

“I feel like everyone wanted Potter to be more of a handcuff than it actually was,” said the resolutely well-adjusted Radcliffe.

“I think Harry Potter is going to be around for a while – a long while – but as long as it doesn’t inhibit me getting parts in the present time, then it’s fine. It’s a lovely association to have, because it’s something I’m incredibly proud of.

“People always say, ‘Don’t you just want to forget about it?’ No! That was my entire adolescence.”

Radcliffe conjures brave new role as gay poet Ginsberg

Daniel Radcliffe doesn’t mind hearing that schoolgirls were staking him out at the Sundance Film Festival, hoping for a Harry Potter sighting.

In fact, Radcliffe is happy if his Potter fame conjures up interest for what he wants to do with the rest of his career, such as his bold turn as young gay poet Allen Ginsberg in the Sundance premiere “Kill Your Darlings.”

Radcliffe goes nude for an explicit sex scene with another man, makes out with co-star Dane DeHaan and also appears in another sex scene with a clerk in a library while DeHaan’s character looks on.

As with his Broadway debut in “Equus,” which also featured a nude scene, Radcliffe said his celebrity from the boy wizard franchise might draw in fans who would not have seen a film such as “Kill Your Darlings.”

“I don’t care why people come and see films. If they come and see a film about the beat poets because they saw me in ‘Harry Potter,’ fantastic. That’s a wonderful thing,” Radcliffe said in an interview alongside DeHaan. “I feel like I have an opportunity to capitalize on ‘Potter’ by doing work that might not otherwise get attention. If I can help get a film like this attention, that’s without doubt, that’s a great thing.”

“Kill Your Darlings” recounts a little-known chapter in the life of Ginsberg, who met Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster) at Columbia University during World War II.

DeHaan plays Ginsberg’s early idol and infatuation Lucien Carr, whose relationship with an obsessive older man (Michael C. Hall) involves the future beat-generation icons in a seamy murder case.

In the course of the film, Ginsberg comes to embrace his homosexuality. Hall said he hopes “Harry Potter” fans can come to embrace Radcliffe in the role and “expand their definition of what a magic wand might be.”

“Kill Your Darlings” director John Krokidas said Radcliffe hurled himself into the role and treated the nudity and gay love scenes as another part of the job, with no qualms or anxiety.

“None! None! None!” said Krokidas, who is gay and so became Radcliffe’s coach in same-sex love-making.

“Radcliffe simply asked, ‘John, you’re gay. How does this work?’” Krokidas said. “I’m not kidding. And so perhaps there was a little dry run-through – oh, she’s going to kill me – with me and the director of photography Reed Morano.

“I might have done it on purpose to make everyone laugh, too, but I also wanted to make sure that we got it right. And other films that have depicted certain moments of sexuality like this, it doesn’t happen that way. And at least for cinematic history, I wanted to get that moment right. But Dan watched, observed, found his own connection like he did any other scene and dove right into it.”

“Kill Your Darlings” premiered last week at Sundance’s main theater, which is adjacent to a high school where classes were just letting out for the day. A group of teenage girls rushed from the school to the back of the theater, trying to determine where Radcliffe and his co-stars would be coming in and out.

Some stars grow to resent that sort of fan attention resulting from past roles, feeling it overshadows the work they’re doing now. So far, Radcliffe seems to see nothing but good things coming out of “Harry Potter.”

“There was a generation of people who maybe wouldn’t have gone to see a production of ‘Equus,’ had I not been in it, that came to see ‘Equus,”” Radcliffe said. “Even if they came for the wrong reasons, you know, we got them there, and they stayed, and they watched. And they stayed for the right reasons.”

Film reviews


‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2’

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” is not just the best movie in the Harry Potter saga, but likely the best series finale ever. It’s as foggy, misty and murky as some of its recent predecessors. But in David Yates’ capable hand “HP+DH2” succeeds in not only tying everything up in a tight knot but also casting an eye to the bright future.

“Part 2” picks up where the first part left off. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ronald (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) are at a seaside safehouse striking a bargain with a goblin so they can destroy the three remaining powerful and magical Horcruxes. In exchange for Gryffindor’s sword, the goblin agrees to get the trio into Bellatrix’s (Helena Bonham Carter) vault for the first of the Horcruxes. Multiplying objects and a mean old dragon don’t deter the threesome and with one Horcrux down, it’s off to none other than Hogwarts where the second Horcrux is hidden.

“HP+DH2” is, in many ways, a war film. The destruction that occurs at Hogwarts is a fresh reminder of the results of the devastation of battle. It also feels like the most spiritually connected film of the series. It drives home messages we’ve heard from the beginning, such as “the wand chooses the wizard.” The special effects in “HP+DH2” are dazzling enough that it’s not necessary to experience it in 3D. But however you choose to see it, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” is the must-see movie of the summer.

‘Horrible Bosses’

Here’s a promising premise that went horribly wrong, carelessly playing the homophobia card and going on far too long. What makes the homophobia especially puzzling is that director Seth Gordon helmed an episode of “Modern Family,” and co-screenwriter Michael Markowitz wrote a few episodes for the gay sitcom “It’s All Relative.”

Three best friends – ambitious corporate exec Nick (Jason Bateman), mild-mannered dental hygienist Dale (Charlie Day) and well-respected assistant manager Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) – are employed by the titular bosses. Nick’s boss David (an especially twisted Kevin Spacey) is a “total fucking asshole” who takes every opportunity to make Nick’s life a living hell. Engaged to Stacy, Dale works for “evil crazy bitch” Julia (Jennifer Aniston playing against type), a nymphomaniac and anti-gay-epithet spewing dentist. Kurt’s boss at the chemical company, Jack (Donald Sutherland), isn’t the problem. It’s Jack’s comb-over-sporting, coke-snorting son Bobby whom Kurt has to watch out for. Never more so than when Jack dies suddenly and Bobby takes over the company.

“Horrible Bosses” has plenty of twists and turns and goes places you might not expect. In a summer when movies such as “Bridesmaids” and even “The Hangover Part 2” served up a similar formula at a rapid-fire pace, “Horrible Bosses” just doesn’t do its job.

Hero

Daniel Radcliffe, the 20-year-old star of the “Harry Potter” film franchise, recently filmed a public service announcement for The Trevor Project, the leading organization focusing on suicide prevention efforts among LGBT youth.

“I think it’s important for somebody from a big, commercial movie series like ‘Harry Potter’ and particularly because I am not gay or bisexual or transgendered. … The fact that I am straight makes not a difference, but it shows that straight people are incredibly interested and care a lot about this as well.’

Potter said his parents, who are both actors, imbued him with a tolerant attitude. “I grew up knowing a lot of gay men and it was never something that I even thought twice about. …And then I went to school and (for) the first time … I came across homophobia. …It shocked me.”

Harry Potter speaks for gay suicide prevention

NEW YORK (AP) — Daniel Radcliffe is explaining why he has just filmed a public service announcement for The Trevor Project, the leading organization focusing on suicide prevention efforts among gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered youth.

Because his parents were both actors, “I grew up knowing a lot of gay men and it was never something that I even thought twice about — that some men were gay and some weren’t,” the “Harry Potter” megastar said Friday. “And then I went to school and (for) the first time … I came across homophobia. … I had never encountered it before. It shocked me.

“I have always hated anybody who is not tolerant of gay men or lesbians or bisexuals,” the British actor added. “Now I am in the very fortunate position where I can actually help or do something about it.”

The result is a public service announcement that was filmed Friday at the organization’s Wall Street offices. The announcement is scheduled to air sometime this spring.

Radcliffe first became aware of The Trevor Project, founded in 1998 by three filmmakers, while he was appearing on Broadway in the 2008 revival of “Equus.” Their movie, “Trevor,” which won an Academy Award for best short film, concerned a gay teen who attempts suicide. The Trevor Project allows young people to call in for counseling or just to talk.

“I have described myself as being ‘gently eccentric’ and slightly different as a person just because I’ve had a very different set of influences growing up than anybody else in my peer group did,” the 20-year-old Radcliffe said. “I’ve always felt very lucky to have the life that I’ve had. I never had to cope with anything serious about my religion or sexual orientation or anything like that.

“I think it’s important for somebody from a big, commercial movie series like ‘Harry Potter’ and particularly because I am not gay or bisexual or transgendered. … The fact that I am straight makes not a difference, but it shows that straight people are incredibly interested and care a lot about this as well.”